representative Bob good (R-Va.), a rural conservative who advocates for deep spending cuts, said Youngkin recently reached out and “expressed his concern.” Good said Youngkin acted “appropriately” when speaking to him and declined to share further details about the conversation.
Youngkin, who is widely seen as a future presidential contender, has so far refused to openly criticize his fellow Republicans for the chaotic clash over government spending. But behind his call for Good lies an electoral reality that he and the state’s Democrats see alike: The shutdown comes at a precarious time.
The state is weeks away from holding a legislative election that will shape the remainder of Youngkin’s term and perhaps his future in national politics. And a planned shutdown this weekend could jeopardize the wages of the more than 140,000 Virginians who work for the federal government.
Both camps are seeking an advantage in a tightly fought battle for control of the state Legislature — all 140 legislative seats are at stake in November — and view a prolonged shutdown as potentially hurting Republicans. The shutdown won’t immediately move issues like abortion to the top of Democrats’ messaging agenda, but attacks on the shutdown will intensify if the standoff drags on.
Virginia Republicans are hoping a prolonged shutdown won’t happen at all. If so, their goal is to minimize the damage and try to shift voters’ attention back to their work in Richmond.
“Because the election is so close in Virginia, it could have an impact that moves the votes, but there is a counter-message,” said a GOP operative working on the legislative elections, speaking on condition of anonymity. Speak frankly. Republicans in the state, this person said, will highlight Richmond’s successes to distinguish themselves from Washington’s dysfunction.
Both parties know they will have to tread carefully. Both Republicans and Democrats have emphasized that they do not want a shutdown to occur, and operatives in both parties believe that unless the shutdown is extended, it will not become a major issue in the final sprint in Virginia. But with a shutdown looming — and early voting already underway — Virginia Republicans and Democrats say it could still weigh on tight battleground races.
“There are concerns, but we have no control over it,” said Ron Wright, co-founder of the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition. “It’s almost a matter of wait and see what impact it will have.” Again, there is nothing we can do about it. »
Government shutdowns played a significant role in Virginia’s recent elections.
Most notably, in 2013, a two-week shutdown in early October preceded a very close gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. An exasperated Republican governor at the time, Bob McDonnell, lambasted Washington – and, notably, House Republicans – on the eve of the shutdown.
“If past is only prologue, it will hurt Republicans,” the representative said. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), recalling the 2013 gubernatorial race. “We have close control of the Senate and the Republicans of course control the House. So any marginal dynamics like this could swing an election for a given seat.”
Although McDonnell did not mention the race to succeed him, the stoppage was seen as a factor in helping McAuliffe edge out Cucinelli.
If the government shuts down this weekend, the electoral consequences could be even more direct. Unlike 2013, Virginia now has robust early voting laws. Early voting began last Friday, meaning that unlike a decade ago, voters are already at the polls.
Besides California and the District itself, Virginia has the largest number of civilian federal employees of any state, as well as a very large military community and private sector jobs that rely on federal employee spending.
And Virginia Democrats want to make sure Republicans support the lockdown. In an interview, party chairwoman Susan Swecker stressed that she hoped a government shutdown could be avoided, saying it could have devastating effects on Virginia’s economy. But, she added, it was clear who would be responsible.
“A deal has been reached with the Biden administration and congressional Democrats on this,” she said. “And Kevin McCarthy and his merry band of MAGA extremists – including Bob Good here in Virginia – are saying, ‘Let him stop.’ » »
Good, a Freedom Caucus member who represents the fewest federal civilian employees in Virginia’s congressional delegation, has been among the group of House Republicans pushing for spending cuts in exchange for not shutting down the government .
Asked about his conversation with Good, Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin’s official office, said in an email that “the governor has regular conversations with members of the Virginia delegation and maintains a positive working relationship with them so they can work together on behalf of all Virginians.
Youngkin, for his part, has not played a significant role in his party in Washington like McDonnell did a decade ago. During an appearance on Fox Business earlier this month, he tried to shift the blame to President Joe Biden. And during his visit last week, he urged patience, saying the state was “in good shape” but acknowledging people were anxious.
Other Republicans in Washington — particularly Virginians — are aware of how their intraparty squabbles could hurt legislative candidates.
Asked if the shutdown would hurt Virginia Republicans, the battleground first-term Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Va.) — herself a former state lawmaker who strongly opposed a shutdown and warned of the consequences for her military-heavy district — said, “I think the Virginians are watching. »
“We have a small majority, so we are demonstrating what Republican leadership looks like, we are setting an example,” she added. “This impacts all of our national elections. They need us to lead well.
Ally Mutnick, Brittany Gibson and JC Whittington contributed to this report.